Last week, members of the West Haven City Council presented West Haven Community House (WHCH) Executive Director, Patricia Stevens, and Board of Directors President, William Heffernan III, “UConn Nation” hand sanitizers for the nonprofit organization’s Community Connections program.
The city’s donation was made possible by University of Connecticut doctoral students and Councilman Barry Lee Cohen (R-10), on behalf of the Connecticut Center for Applied Separations Technologies (CAST) and the UConn Department of Chemical Engineering. Joining Cohen for the presentation was fellow WHCH Board of Directors member, Councilwoman Elizabeth Johnston (D-3).
During the pandemic, some chemical manufacturers have repurposed a portion of their production lines to manufacture hand sanitizers. These process lines are normally used to produce plating chemistries for automotive, building, hardware, aerospace, and other end-use components.
Cohen who has been involved with advanced chemical technologies for over three decades, reached out to his industry colleagues, one of whom provided introductions between Cohen and UConn students and faculty affiliated with CAST. Under the direction of doctoral student, Noah Ferguson, the center was able to offer hand sanitizer that will ensure all WHCH Community Connections resident and day clients receive a 6 oz. bottle. Later this month, an additional supply will be distributed to Savin Rock Communities – Morrissey Manor residents.
“It was a couple of weeks into the pandemic, and we were having our weekly research group meeting,” said Ferguson. “We were bouncing ideas around of what we could do, and producing our own hand sanitizer came up. We all wanted to use our engineering skills to help the community.”* Ferguson also noted that World Health Organization (WHO) specifications are used to produce the hand sanitizer.
Stevens said, “We are very grateful to the UConn doctoral students and faculty who used their knowledge and experience to produce a very needed supply, and to Barry Cohen, WHCH board member, who arranged for this generous gift. As we prepare to re-open our Community Connections program, the hand sanitizers will become invaluable to our agency and clients as we ensure for the ongoing safety and health of all clients and staff.”
Community Connections, a division of The West Haven Community House, provides individualized and meaningful enrichment opportunities that increase independence, enhance community integration, and improve the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities.
Donations to allow the students to continue their hand sanitizer production and distribution to charities and communities in need, can be made by visiting https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/uconnENG.